Gonzalo Higuain the difference as Napoli defeat Lazio


Gonzalo Higuain's first-half goal gave Napoli a 1-0 victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. The Argentina international scored his 10th league goal of the season to secure Napoli's second victory in three Serie A matches when he netted from a narrow angle in the 18th minute. Victory for Rafael Benitez's side saw them leapfrog their opponents into third place in the Serie A standings. Napoli were soundly beaten 3-1 by champions Juventus in their last outing and, eager to get back to winning ways, they started brightly in the capital. Lazio, who were unbeaten in their first three games of 2015, offered very little in attack in the opening quarter and found themselves behind inside 20 minutes. Higuain ran on to a fine through-ball down the right flank, beat Lazio midfielder Lucas Biglia for pace on the outside and sent a thunderous shot past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha to silence the majority of those assembled inside the Stadio Olimpico. Higuain could have doubled Napoli's lead on the half-hour mark when he again found himself in space on the right flank, but his shot across goal evaded Berisha's far post by a matter of inches. Napoli were almost made to pay when Lazio right-back Luis Pedro Cavanda found himself free at the back post but his shot was tame to say the least and Napoli keeper Rafael Cabral gratefully gathered. Lazio continued to probe and Marco Parolo rose highest to meet a deep corner moments later, but his towering header from the near the edge of the penalty area crashed off the bar. Lazio boss Stefano Pioli threw on Miroslav Klose for the second half, but the most prolific goalscorer in World Cup history could not find a way past Napoli's resolute defence as the second half mustered very few chances for either side. Higuain was replaced with four minutes of normal time remaining to a standing ovation from the away support. Marek Hamsik tried to chest a probing cross from the left into the net in stoppage time but his audacious effort was blocked on the line, and Napoli saw out the remaining action to record their ninth league victory of the campaign.